Alexa
  • Directory of Taiwan

First day on the job: Turkish president expected to approve new Cabinet

First day on the job: Turkish president expected to approve new Cabinet

Turkey's new president, a devout Muslim who has vowed to respect the separation of Islam and state, faces his first task Wednesday _ reviewing a list of possible Cabinet ministers _ while under close scrutiny from secularist opponents.
President Abdullah Gul won election in a parliamentary vote Tuesday after months of confrontation with the secular establishment. The opposition will be watching for signs of bias toward the Islamic-oriented government.
The presidency, a traditional bastion of secularism, has the power to veto legislation and official appointments.
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, his ally, arrived at the presidential palace to submit his list of proposed Cabinet ministers to Gul, the former foreign minister, for approval. The process was expected to be a formality, though Gul has the right to block candidates.
Media reports indicate the Cabinet of two dozen ministers is likely to be a mixture of people with Islamic and non-Islamic backgrounds.
According to reports, Gul's successor at the foreign ministry is expected to be Ali Babacan, the finance minister and a close associate of Gul in the government's campaign to join the European Union. Babacan, 40, the youngest minister in the outgoing government, was in charge of EU membership negotiations.
Babacan, who earned a business degree at Northwestern University in the United States, also acted as steward of economic reforms that were backed by the International Monetary Fund.
The reforms helped Turkey emerge from an economic crisis and attain an average annual growth of 7 percent.
Other figures touted as possible new ministers include Ertugrul Gunay, who joined the ruling Justice and Development party after leaving the Republican People's Party, the main opposition group that helped derail a presidential bid by Gul in the spring. Another is Zafer Caglayan, who headed the chamber of industry in Ankara, the capital.
Erdogan was expected to appoint two separate ministers for the portfolios of culture and tourism, splitting the ministry in charge of both, into two. Tourism is a major source of revenue for the country.
The new Cabinet was likely to feature more women, including 46-year-old Edibe Sozen, a U.S.-educated sociologist who was in charge of media relations in Erdogan's party. The only woman in the last Cabinet, Nimet Cubukcu, was in charge of women and family affairs.
Bulent Arinc, parliament's former speaker, has also been mentioned in local media as a possible minister. Arinc, who co-founded the ruling party with Erdogan in 2001, is considered strongly religious and less given to compromise.
Earlier this year, Arinc drew the ire of secularists by calling for the election of a "religious" president.
In a sign that tension could lie ahead, senior military generals did not attend the swearing-in ceremony Tuesday in parliament of their new president and commander in chief.
Local media interpreted the absence of the military brass as a protest against Gul, whose earlier bid for the post was blocked by the secular opposition, which included the military and the top court.
However, Gul attended a graduation ceremony Wednesday at a military medical academy where generals stood to attention as he entered. Gul's wife, who wears an Islamic-style headscarf that is banned on military premises, did not attend the event.
Gul received a majority of 339 votes in a parliamentary ballot. His triumph was assured by the ruling party that won a second term in general elections last month, but Gul was careful to reach out to the many Turks who suspect he has a secret Islamic agenda.
"In democracy, which is a system of rights and liberties, secularism, one of the core principles of our republic, is as much a model that underpins freedom for different lifestyles as it is a rule of social harmony," Gul said.
He also praised the military, a day after the military chief, Gen. Yasar Buyukanit, warned that "centers of evil" were plotting to corrode secular principles.
The military has ousted four governments since 1960, and Gul's initial bid for president was derailed over fears that he planned to dilute secular traditions.


Updated : 2021-07-29 12:34 GMT+08:00